Monday, September 03, 2007

Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers President Khurshid A. Qureshi hugging Rabbi Eric Yoffie after his Friday address. (AP)

Reform Jewish leader tells U.S. Muslims that Islam is being demonized

The president of the Union for Reform Judaism accused American media, politicians and religious groups on Friday of demonizing Islam.

Addressing the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, Rabbi Eric Yoffie said Muslims have been turned into "satanic figures."

"There exists in this country among all Americans, whether Jews, Christians, or non-believers, a huge and profound ignorance about Islam ... there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots," he said.

Yoffie said his organization is discussing with Muslim leaders a dialogue and education program in the near future to increase understanding between the two faiths.

He said Americans need to know "how far removed Islam is from the perverse distortions of the terrorists who too often dominate the media, subverting Islam's image by professing to speak in its name."

Yoffie also called for an end to racial profiling and legal discrimination of any kind against Muslim Americans, and urged North America's Muslims to keep condemning violence committed in the name of Islam until the message sinks in.

In his address, Yoffie said "to all those who desecrate God's name by using religion to justify killing and terror, let us say together: Enough."

"No cause in the world, and surely no religious cause, can ever justify murdering the innocent or targeting the uninvolved ... You cannot honor God if you do not honor the image of God in every human being; and you cannot get to heaven by creating hell on earth," he said.

"We have expressed these views, and so have you, with your clear statements condemning terrorist attacks. But let us agree that this task will not be done until the message is heard, and others in the Muslim world join with [you] in ringing denunciations of terror that will be heard throughout the globe."

Yoffie's progressive wing of Judaism describes itself as the largest Jewish religious movement in North America, with more than 900 congregations and 1.5 million Jews. The annual convention of the largest U.S. Muslim group draws about 30,000 people.


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